More on Society & Culture
3 months ago
The reasons why our civilization is deteriorating
The Industrial Revolution's Curse: Why One Age's Power Prevents the Next Ones
A surprising fact. Recently, Big Oil's 1970s climate change projections were disturbingly accurate. Of course, we now know that it worked tirelessly to deny climate change, polluting our societies to this day. That's a small example of the Industrial Revolution's curse.
Let me rephrase this nuanced and possibly weird thought. The chart above? Disruptive science is declining. The kind that produces major discoveries, new paradigms, and shattering prejudices.
Not alone. Our civilisation reached a turning point suddenly. Progress stopped and reversed for the first time in centuries.
The Industrial Revolution's Big Bang started it all. At least some humans had riches for the first time, if not all, and with that wealth came many things. Longer, healthier lives since now health may be publicly and privately invested in. For the first time in history, wealthy civilizations could invest their gains in pure research, a good that would have sounded frivolous to cultures struggling to squeeze out the next crop, which required every shoulder to the till.
So. Don't confuse me with the Industrial Revolution's curse. Industry progressed. Contrary. I'm claiming that the Big Bang of Progress is slowing, plateauing, and ultimately reversing. All social indicators show that. From progress itself to disruptive, breakthrough research, everything is slowing down.
It's troubling. Because progress slows and plateaus, pre-modern social problems like fascism, extremism, and fundamentalism return. People crave nostalgic utopias when they lose faith in modernity. That strongman may shield me from this hazardous life. If I accept my place in a blood-and-soil hierarchy, I have a stable, secure position and someone to punch and detest. It's no coincidence that as our civilization hits a plateau of progress, there is a tsunami pulling the world backwards, with people viscerally, openly longing for everything from theocracy to fascism to fundamentalism, an authoritarian strongman to soothe their fears and tell them what to do, whether in Britain, heartland America, India, China, and beyond.
However, one aspect remains unknown. Technology. Let me clarify.
How do most people picture tech? Say that without thinking. Most people think of social media or AI. Well, small correlation engines called artificial neurons are a far cry from biological intelligence, which functions in far more obscure and intricate ways, down to the subatomic level. But let's try it.
Today, tech means AI. But. Do you foresee it?
Consider why civilisation is plateauing and regressing. Because we can no longer provide the most basic necessities at the same rate. On our track, clean air, water, food, energy, medicine, and healthcare will become inaccessible to huge numbers within a decade or three. Not enough. There isn't, therefore prices for food, medicine, and energy keep rising, with occasional relief.
Why our civilizations are encountering what economists like me term a budget constraint—a hard wall of what we can supply—should be evident. Global warming and extinction. Megafires, megadroughts, megafloods, and failed crops. On a civilizational scale, good luck supplying the fundamentals that way. Industrial food production cannot feed a planet warming past two degrees. Crop failures, droughts, floods. Another example: glaciers melt, rivers dry up, and the planet's fresh water supply contracts like a heart attack.
Now. Let's talk tech again. Mostly AI, maybe phone apps. The unsettling reality is that current technology cannot save humanity. Not much.
AI can do things that have become cliches to titillate the masses. It may talk to you and act like a person. It can generate art, which means reproduce it, but nonetheless, AI art! Despite doubts, it promises to self-drive cars. Unimportant.
We need different technology now. AI won't grow crops in ash-covered fields, cleanse water, halt glaciers from melting, or stop the clear-cutting of the planet's few remaining forests. It's not useless, but on a civilizational scale, it's much less beneficial than its proponents claim. By the time it matures, AI can help deliver therapy, keep old people company, and even drive cars more efficiently. None of it can save our culture.
Expand that scenario. AI's most likely use? Replacing call-center workers. Support. It may help doctors diagnose, surgeons orient, or engineers create more fuel-efficient motors. This is civilizationally marginal.
Non-disruptive. Do you see the connection with the paper that indicated disruptive science is declining? AI exemplifies that. It's called disruptive, yet it's a textbook incremental technology. Oh, cool, I can communicate with a bot instead of a poor human in an underdeveloped country and have the same or more trouble being understood. This bot is making more people unemployed. I can now view a million AI artworks.
AI illustrates our civilization's trap. Its innovative technologies will change our lives. But as you can see, its incremental, delivering small benefits at most, and certainly not enough to balance, let alone solve, the broader problem of steadily dropping living standards as our society meets a wall of being able to feed itself with fundamentals.
Contrast AI with disruptive innovations we need. What do we need to avoid a post-Roman Dark Age and preserve our civilization in the coming decades? We must be able to post-industrially produce all our basic needs. We need post-industrial solutions for clean water, electricity, cement, glass, steel, manufacture for garments and shoes, starting with the fossil fuel-intensive plastic, cotton, and nylon they're made of, and even food.
Consider. We have no post-industrial food system. What happens when crop failures—already dangerously accelerating—reach a critical point? Our civilization is vulnerable. Think of ancient civilizations that couldn't survive the drying up of their water sources, the failure of their primary fields, which they assumed the gods would preserve forever, or an earthquake or sickness that killed most of their animals. Bang. Lost. They failed. They splintered, fragmented, and abandoned vast capitols and cities, and suddenly, in history's sight, poof, they were gone.
We're getting close. Decline equals civilizational peril.
We believe dumb notions about AI becoming disruptive when it's incremental. Most of us don't realize our civilization's risk because we believe these falsehoods. Everyone should know that we cannot create any thing at civilizational scale without fossil fuels. Most of us don't know it, thus we don't realize that the breakthrough technologies and systems we need don't manipulate information anymore. Instead, biotechnologies, largely but not genes, generate food without fossil fuels.
We need another Industrial Revolution. AI, apps, bots, and whatnot won't matter unless you think you can eat and drink them while the world dies and fascists, lunatics, and zealots take democracy's strongholds. That's dramatic, but only because it's already happening. Maybe AI can entertain you in that bunker while society collapses with smart jokes or a million Mondrian-like artworks. If civilization is to survive, it cannot create the new Industrial Revolution.
The revolution has begun, but only in small ways. Post-industrial fundamental systems leaders are developing worldwide. The Netherlands is leading post-industrial agriculture. That's amazing because it's a tiny country performing well. Correct? Discover how large-scale agriculture can function, not just you and me, aged hippies, cultivating lettuce in our backyards.
Iceland is leading bioplastics, which, if done well, will be a major advance. Of sure, microplastics are drowning the oceans. What should we do since we can't live without it? We need algae-based bioplastics for green plastic.
That's still young. Any of the above may not function on a civilizational scale. Bioplastics use algae, which can cause problems if overused. None of the aforementioned indicate the next Industrial Revolution is here. Contrary. Slowly.
We have three decades until everything fails. Before life ends. Curtain down. No more fields, rivers, or weather. Freshwater and life stocks have plummeted. Again, we've peaked and declined in our ability to live at today's relatively rich standards. Game over—no more. On a dying planet, producing the fundamentals for a civilisation that left it too late to construct post-industrial systems becomes next to impossible, with output dropping faster and quicker each year, quarter, and day.
Too slow. That's because it's not really happening. Most people think AI when I say tech. I get a politicized response if I say Green New Deal or Clean Industrial Revolution. Half the individuals I talk to have been politicized into believing that climate change isn't real and that any breakthrough technical progress isn't required, desirable, possible, or genuine. They'll suffer.
The Industrial Revolution curse. Every revolution creates new authorities, which ossify and refuse to relinquish their privileges. For fifty years, Big Oil has denied climate change, even though their scientists predicted it. We also have a software industry and its venture capital power centers that are happy for the average person to think tech means chatbots, not being able to produce basics for a civilization without destroying the planet, and billionaires who buy comms platforms for the same eye-watering amount of money it would take to save life on Earth.
The entire world's vested interests are against the next industrial revolution, which is understandable since they were established from fossil money. From finance to energy to corporate profits to entertainment, power in our world is the result of the last industrial revolution, which means it has no motivation or purpose to give up fossil money, as we are witnessing more brutally out in the open.
Thus, the Industrial Revolution's curse—fossil power—rules our globe. Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, Wall St., Silicon Valley, and many others—including politics, which they buy and sell—are basically fossil power, and they have no interest in generating or letting the next industrial revolution happen. That's why tiny enterprises like those creating bioplastics in Iceland or nations savvy enough to shun fossil power, like the Netherlands, which has a precarious relationship with nature, do it. However, fossil power dominates politics, economics, food, clothes, energy, and medicine, and it has no motivation to change.
Allow disruptive innovations again. As they occur, its position becomes increasingly vulnerable. If you were fossil power, would you allow another industrial revolution to destroy its privilege and wealth?
You might, since power and money haven't corrupted you. However, fossil power prevents us from building, creating, and growing what we need to survive as a society. I mean the entire economic, financial, and political power structure from the last industrial revolution, not simply Big Oil. My friends, fossil power's chokehold over our society is likely to continue suffocating the advances that could have spared our civilization from a decline that's now here and spiraling closer to oblivion.
9 months ago
The chronicles of monkeypox.
or, how I spread monkeypox and got it myself.
This story contains nsfw (not safe for wife) stuff and shouldn't be read if you're under 18 or think I'm a newborn angel. After the opening, it's broken into three sections: a chronological explanation of my disease course, my ideas, and what I plan to do next.
Your journey awaits.
As early as mid-may, I was waltzing around the lab talking about monkeypox, a rare tropical disease with an inaccurate name. Monkeys are not its primary animal reservoir. It caused an outbreak among men who have sex with men across Europe, with unprecedented levels of person-to-person transmission. European health authorities speculated that the virus spread at raves and parties and was easily transferred through intimate, mainly sexual, contact. I had already read the nejm article about the first confirmed monkeypox patient in the u.s. and shared the photos on social media so people knew what to look for. The cdc information page only included 4 photographs of monkeypox lesions that looked like they were captured on a motorola razr.
I warned my ex-boyfriend about monkeypox. Monkeypox? responded.
Mom, I'm afraid about monkeypox. What's monkeypox?
My therapist is scared about monkeypox. What's monkeypox?
Was I alone? A few science gays on Twitter didn't make me feel overreacting.
This information got my gay head turning. The incubation period for the sickness is weeks. Many of my social media contacts are traveling to Europe this summer. What is pride? Travel, parties, and sex. Many people may become infected before attending these activities. Monkeypox will affect the lgbtq+ community.
Being right always stinks. My young scientist brain was right, though. Someone who saw this coming is one of the early victims. I'll talk about my feelings publicly, and trust me, I have many concerning what's occurring.
Part 1 is the specifics.
Wednesday nights are never smart but always entertaining. I didn't wake up until noon on june 23 and saw gay twitter blazing. Without warning, the nyc department of health announced a pop-up monkeypox immunization station in chelsea. Some days would be 11am-7pm. Walk-ins were welcome, however appointments were preferred. I tried to arrange an appointment after rubbing my eyes, but they were all taken. I got out of bed, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and put on short shorts because I wanted to get a walk-in dose and show off my legs. I got a 20-oz. cold brew on the way to the train and texted a chelsea-based acquaintance for help.
Clinic closed at 2pm. No more doses. Hundreds queued up. The government initially gave them only 1,000 dosages. For a city with 500,000 LGBT people, c'mon. What more could I do? I was upset by how things were handled. The evidence speaks for itself.
I decided to seek an appointment when additional doses were available and continued my weekend. I was celebrating nyc pride with pals. Fun! sex! *
On tuesday after that, I felt a little burn. This wasn't surprising because I'd been sexually active throughout the weekend, so I got a sti panel the next day. I expected to get results in a few days, take antibiotics, and move on.
Emerging germs had other intentions. Wednesday night, I felt sore, and thursday morning, I had a blazing temperature and had sweat through my bedding. I had fever, chills, and body-wide aches and pains for three days. I reached 102 degrees. I believed I had covid over pride weekend, but I tested negative for three days straight.
STDs don't induce fevers or other systemic symptoms. If lymphogranuloma venereum advances, it can cause flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes. I was suspicious and desperate for answers, so I researched monkeypox on the cdc website (for healthcare professionals). Much of what I saw on screen about monkeypox prodrome matched my symptoms. Multiple-day fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, tiredness, enlarged lymph nodes. Pox were lacking.
I told my doctor my concerns pre-medically. I'm occasionally annoying.
On saturday night, my fever broke and I felt better. Still burning, I was optimistic till sunday, when I woke up with five red splotches on my arms and fingertips.
As spots formed, burning became pain. I observed as spots developed on my body throughout the day. I had more than a dozen by the end of the day, and the early spots were pustular. I had monkeypox, as feared.
Fourth of July weekend limited my options. I'm well-connected in my school's infectious disease academic community, so I texted a coworker for advice. He agreed it was likely monkeypox and scheduled me for testing on tuesday.
nyc health could only perform 10 monkeypox tests every day. Before doctors could take swabs and send them in, each test had to be approved by the department. Some commercial labs can now perform monkeypox testing, but the backlog is huge. I still don't have a positive orthopoxvirus test five days after my test. *My 12-day-old case may not be included in the official monkeypox tally. This outbreak is far wider than we first thought, therefore I'm attempting to spread the information and help contain it.
*Update, 7/11: I have orthopoxvirus.
I spent all day in the bathtub because of the agony. Warm lavender epsom salts helped me feel better. I can't stand lavender anymore. I brought my laptop into the bathroom and viewed everything everywhere at once (2022). If my ex and I hadn't recently broken up, I wouldn't have monkeypox. All of these things made me cry, and I sat in the bathtub on the 4th of July sobbing. I thought, Is this it? I felt like Bridesmaids' Kristen Wiig (2011). I'm a flop. From here, things can only improve.
Later that night, I wore a mask and went to my roof to see the fireworks. Even though I don't like fireworks, there was something wonderful about them this year: the colors, how they illuminated the black surfaces around me, and their transient beauty. Joyful moments rarely linger long in our life. We must enjoy them now.
Several roofs away, my neighbors gathered. Happy 4th! I heard a woman yell. Why is this godforsaken country so happy? Instead of being rude, I replied. I didn't tell them I had monkeypox. I thought that would kill the mood.
By the time I went to the hospital the next day to get my lesions swabbed, wearing long sleeves, pants, and a mask, they looked like this:
I had 30 lesions on my arms, hands, stomach, back, legs, buttcheeks, face, scalp, and right eyebrow. I had some in my mouth, gums, and throat. Current medical thought is that lesions on mucous membranes cause discomfort in sensitive places. Internal lesions are a new feature of this outbreak of monkeypox. Despite being unattractive, the other sores weren't unpleasant or bothersome.
I had a bacterial sti with the pox. Who knows if that would've created symptoms (often it doesn't), but different infections can happen at once. My care team remembered that having a sti doesn't exclude out monkeypox. doxycycline rocks!
The coworker who introduced me to testing also offered me his home. We share a restroom, and monkeypox can be spread through surfaces. (Being a dna virus gives it environmental hardiness that rna viruses like sars-cov-2 lack.) I disinfected our bathroom after every usage, but I was apprehensive. My friend's place has a guest room and second bathroom, so no cross-contamination. It was the ideal monkeypox isolation environment, so I accepted his offer and am writing this piece there. I don't know what I would have done without his hospitality and attention.
The next day, I started tecovirimat, or tpoxx, for 14 days. Smallpox has been eradicated worldwide since the 1980s but remains a bioterrorism concern. Tecovirimat has a unique, orthopoxvirus-specific method of action, which reduces side effects to headache and nausea. It hasn't been used in many people, therefore the cdc is encouraging patients who take it for monkeypox to track their disease and symptoms.
Tpoxx's oral absorption requires a fatty meal. The hospital ordered me to take the medication after a 600-calorie, 25-gram-fat meal every 12 hours. The coordinator joked, "Don't diet for the next two weeks." I wanted to get peanut butter delivered, but jif is recalling their supply due to salmonella. Please give pathogens a break. I got almond butter.
Tpoxx study enrollment was documented. After signing consent documents, my lesions were photographed and measured during a complete physical exam. I got bloodwork to assess my health. My medication delivery was precise; every step must be accounted for. I got a two-week supply and started taking it that night. I rewarded myself with McDonald's. I'd been hungry for a week. I was also prescribed ketorolac (aka toradol), a stronger ibuprofen, for my discomfort.
I thought tpoxx was a wonder medicine by day two of treatment. Early lesions looked like this.
however, They vanished. The three largest lesions on my back flattened and practically disappeared into my skin. Some pustular lesions were diminishing. Tpoxx+toradol has helped me sleep, focus, and feel human again. I'm down to twice-daily baths and feeling hungrier than ever in this illness. On day five of tpoxx, some of the lesions look like this:
I have a ways to go. We must believe I'll be contagious until the last of my patches scabs over, falls off, and sprouts new skin. There's no way to tell. After a week and a half of tremendous pain and psychological stress, any news is good news. I'm grateful for my slow but steady development.
Part 2 of the rant.
Being close to yet not in the medical world is interesting. It lets me know a lot about it without being persuaded by my involvement. Doctors identify and treat patients using a tool called differential diagnosis.
A doctor interviews a patient to learn about them and their symptoms. More is better. Doctors may ask, "Have you traveled recently?" sex life? Have pets? preferred streaming service? (No, really. (Hbomax is right.) After the inquisition, the doctor will complete a body exam ranging from looking in your eyes, ears, and throat to a thorough physical.
After collecting data, the doctor makes a mental (or physical) inventory of all the conceivable illnesses that could cause or explain the patient's symptoms. Differential diagnosis list. After establishing the differential, the clinician can eliminate options. The doctor will usually conduct nucleic acid tests on swab samples or bloodwork to learn more. This helps eliminate conditions from the differential or boosts a condition's likelihood. In an ideal circumstance, the doctor can eliminate all but one reason of your symptoms, leaving your formal diagnosis. Once diagnosed, treatment can begin. yay! Love medicine.
My symptoms two weeks ago did not suggest monkeypox. Fever, pains, weariness, and swollen lymph nodes are caused by several things. My scandalous symptoms weren't linked to common ones. My instance shows the importance of diversity and representation in healthcare. My doctor isn't gay, but he provides culturally sensitive care. I'd heard about monkeypox as a gay man in New York. I was hyper-aware of it and had heard of friends of friends who had contracted it the week before, even though the official case count in the US was 40. My physicians weren't concerned, but I was. How would it appear on his mental differential if it wasn't on his radar? Mental differential rhymes! I'll trademark it to prevent theft. differential!
I was in a rare position to recognize my condition and advocate for myself. I study infections. I'd spent months researching monkeypox. I work at a university where I rub shoulders with some of the country's greatest doctors. I'm a gay dude who follows nyc queer social networks online. All of these variables positioned me to think, "Maybe this is monkeypox," and to explain why.
This outbreak is another example of privilege at work. The brokenness of our healthcare system is once again exposed by the inequities produced by the vaccination rollout and the existence of people like myself who can pull strings owing to their line of work. I can't cure this situation on my own, but I can be a strong voice demanding the government do a better job addressing the outbreak and giving resources and advice to everyone I can.
lgbtqia+ community members' support has always impressed me in new york. The queer community has watched out for me and supported me in ways I never dreamed were possible.
Queer individuals are there for each other when societal structures fail. People went to the internet on the first day of the vaccine rollout to share appointment information and the vaccine clinic's message. Twitter timelines were more effective than marketing campaigns. Contrary to widespread anti-vaccine sentiment, the LGBT community was eager to protect themselves. Smallpox vaccination? sure. gimme. whether I'm safe. I credit the community's sex positivity. Many people are used to talking about STDs, so there's a reduced barrier to saying, "I think I have something, you should be on the watch too," and taking steps to protect our health.
Once I got monkeypox, I posted on Twitter and Instagram. Besides fueling my main character syndrome, I felt like I wasn't alone. My dc-based friend had monkeypox within hours. He told me about his experience and gave me ideas for managing the discomfort. I can't imagine life without him.
My buddy and colleague organized my medical care and let me remain in his home. His and his husband's friendliness and attention made a world of difference in my recovery. All of my friends and family who helped me, whether by venmo, doordash, or moral support, made me feel cared about. I don't deserve the amazing people in my life.
Finally, I think of everyone who commented on my social media posts regarding my trip. Friends from all sectors of my life and all sexualities have written me well wishes and complimented me for my vulnerability, but I feel the most gravitas from fellow lgbtq+ persons. They're learning to spot. They're learning where to go ill. They're learning self-advocacy. I'm another link in our network of caretaking. I've been cared for, therefore I want to do the same. Community and knowledge are powerful.
You're probably wondering where the diatribe is. You may believe he's gushing about his loved ones, and you'd be right. I say that just because the queer community can take care of itself doesn't mean we should.
Even when caused by the same pathogen, comparing health crises is risky. Aids is unlike covid-19 or monkeypox, yet all were caused by poorly understood viruses. The lgbtq+ community has a history of self-medicating. Queer people (and their supporters) have led the charge to protect themselves throughout history when the government refused. Surreal to experience this in real time.
First, vaccination access is a government failure. The strategic national stockpile contains tens of thousands of doses of jynneos, the newest fda-approved smallpox vaccine, and millions of doses of acam2000, an older vaccine for immunocompetent populations. Despite being a monkeypox hotspot and international crossroads, new york has only received 7,000 doses of the jynneos vaccine. Vaccine appointments are booked within minutes. It's showing Hunger Games, which bothers me.
Second, I think the government failed to recognize the severity of the european monkeypox outbreak. We saw abroad reports in may, but the first vaccines weren't available until june. Why was I a 26-year-old pharmacology grad student, able to see a monkeypox problem in europe but not the u.s. public health agency? Or was there too much bureaucracy and politicking, delaying action?
Lack of testing infrastructure for a known virus with vaccinations and therapies is appalling. More testing would have helped understand the problem's breadth. Many homosexual guys, including myself, didn't behave like monkeypox was a significant threat because there were only a dozen instances across the country. Our underestimating of the issue, spurred by a story of few infections, was huge.
Public health officials' response to infectious diseases frustrates me. A wait-and-see approach to infectious diseases is unsatisfactory. Before a sick person is recognized, they've exposed and maybe contaminated numerous others. Vaccinating susceptible populations before a disease becomes entrenched prevents disease. CDC might operate this way. When it was easier, they didn't control or prevent monkeypox. We'll learn when. Sometimes I fear never. Emerging viral infections are a menace in the era of climate change and globalization, and I fear our government will repeat the same mistakes. I don't work at the cdc, thus I have no idea what they do. As a scientist, a homosexual guy, and a citizen of this country, I feel confident declaring that the cdc has not done enough about monkeypox. Will they do enough about monkeypox? The strategic national stockpile can respond to a bioterrorism disaster in 12 hours. I'm skeptical following this outbreak.
It's simple to criticize the cdc, but they're not to blame. Underfunding public health services, especially the cdc, is another way our government fails to safeguard its citizens. I may gripe about the vaccination rollout all I want, but local health departments are doing their best with limited resources. They may not have enough workers to keep up with demand and run a contact-tracing program. Since my orthopoxvirus test is still negative, the doh hasn't asked about my close contacts. By then, my illness will be two weeks old, too long to do anything productive. Not their fault. They're functioning in a broken system that's underfunded for the work it does.
*Update, 7/11: I have orthopoxvirus.
Monkeypox is slow, so i've had time to contemplate. Now that I'm better, I'm angry. furious and sad I want to help. I wish to spare others my pain. This was preventable and solvable, I hope. HOW?
Third, the duty.
Family, especially selected family, helps each other. So many people have helped me throughout this difficult time. How can I give back? I have ideas.
1. Education. I've already started doing this by writing incredibly detailed posts on Instagram about my physical sickness and my thoughts on the entire scandal. via tweets. by producing this essay. I'll keep doing it even if people start to resent me! It's crucial! On my Instagram profile (@kyleplanckton), you may discover a story highlight with links to all of my bizarre yet educational posts.
2. Resources. I've forwarded the contact information for my institution's infectious diseases clinic to several folks who will hopefully be able to get tpoxx under the expanded use policy. Through my social networks, I've learned of similar institutions. I've also shared crowdsourced resources about symptom relief and vaccine appointment availability on social media. DM me or see my Instagram highlight for more.
3. Community action. During my illness, my friends' willingness to aid me has meant the most. It was nice to know I had folks on my side. One of my pals (thanks, kenny) snagged me a mcgriddle this morning when seamless canceled my order. This scenario has me thinking about methods to help people with monkeypox isolation. A two-week isolation period is financially damaging for many hourly workers. Certain governments required paid sick leave for covid-19 to allow employees to recover and prevent spread. No comparable program exists for monkeypox, and none seems to be planned shortly.
I want to aid monkeypox patients in severe financial conditions. I'm willing to pick up and bring groceries or fund meals/expenses for sick neighbors. I've seen several GoFundMe accounts, but I wish there was a centralized mechanism to link those in need with those who can help. Please contact me if you have expertise with mutual aid organizations. I hope we can start this shortly.
4. lobbying. Personal narratives are powerful. My narrative is only one, but I think it's compelling. Over the next day or so, i'll write to local, state, and federal officials about monkeypox. I wanted a vaccine but couldn't acquire one, and I feel tpoxx helped my disease. As a pharmacologist-in-training, I believe collecting data on a novel medicine is important, and there are ethical problems when making a drug with limited patient data broadly available. Many folks I know can't receive tpoxx due of red tape and a lack of contacts. People shouldn't have to go to an ivy league hospital to obtain the greatest care. Based on my experience and other people's tales, I believe tpoxx can drastically lessen monkeypox patients' pain and potentially curb transmission chains if administered early enough. This outbreak is manageable. It's not too late if we use all the instruments we have (diagnostic, vaccine, treatment).
*UPDATE 7/15: I submitted the following letter to Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. I've addressed identical letters to local, state, and federal officials, including the CDC and HHS.
I hope to join RESPND-MI, an LGBTQ+ community-led assessment of monkeypox symptoms and networks in NYC. Visit their website to learn more and give to this community-based charity.
How I got monkeypox is a mystery. I received it through a pride physical interaction, but i'm not sure which one. This outbreak will expand unless leaders act quickly. Until then, I'll keep educating and connecting people to care in my neighborhood.
Despite my misgivings, I see some optimism. Health department social media efforts are underway. During the outbreak, the CDC provided nonjudgmental suggestions for safer social and sexual activity. There's additional information regarding the disease course online, including how to request tpoxx for sufferers. These materials can help people advocate for themselves if they're sick. Importantly, homosexual guys are listening when they discuss about monkeypox online and irl. Learners They're serious.
The government has a terrible track record with lgtbq+ health issues, and they're not off to a good start this time. I hope this time will be better. If I can aid even one individual, I'll do so.
Thanks for reading, supporting me, and spreading awareness about the 2022 monkeypox outbreak. My dms are accessible if you want info, resources, queries, or to chat.
10 months ago
Why the Creator Economy needs a Web3 upgrade
Looking back into the past can help you understand what's happening today and why.
"Creator economy" conjures up images of originality, sincerity, and passion. Where do Michelangelos and da Vincis push advancement with their gifts without battling for bread and proving themselves posthumously?
Creativity has been as long as humanity, but it's just recently become a new economic paradigm. We even talk about Web3 now.
Let's examine the creative economy's history to better comprehend it. What brought us here? Looking back can help you understand what's happening now.
No yawning, I promise 😉.
Creator Economy's history
Long, uneven transition to creator economy. Let's examine the economic and societal changes that led us there.
1. Agriculture to industry
Mid-18th-century Industrial Revolution led to shift from agriculture to manufacturing. The industrial economy lasted until World War II.
The industrial economy's principal goal was to provide more affordable, accessible commodities.
Unlike today, products were scarce and inaccessible.
To fulfill its goals, industrialization triggered enormous economic changes, moving power from agrarians to manufacturers. Industrialization brought hard work, rivalry, and new ideas connected to production and automation. Creative thinkers focused on that then.
It doesn't mean music, poetry, or painting had no place back then. They weren't top priority. Artists were independent. The creative field wasn't considered a different economic subdivision.
2. The consumer economy
Manufacturers produced more things than consumers desired after World War II. Stuff was no longer scarce.
The economy must make customers want to buy what the market offers.
The consumer economic paradigm supplanted the industrial one. Customers (or consumers) replaced producers as the new economic center.
Salesmen, marketing, and journalists also played key roles (TV, radio, newspapers, etc.). Mass media greatly boosted demand for goods, defined trends, and changed views regarding nearly everything.
Mass media also gave rise to pop culture, which focuses on mass-market creative products. Design, printing, publishing, multi-media, audio-visual, cinematographic productions, etc. supported pop culture.
The consumer paradigm generated creative occupations and activities, unlike the industrial economy. Creativity was limited by the need for wide appeal.
Most creators were corporate employees.
Creating a following and making a living from it were difficult.
Paul Saffo said that only journalists and TV workers were known. Creators who wished to be known relied on producers, publishers, and other gatekeepers. To win their favor was crucial. Luck was the best tactic.
3. The creative economy
Consumer economy was digitized in the 1990s. IT solutions transformed several economic segments. This new digital economy demanded innovative, digital creativity.
Later, states declared innovation a "valuable asset that creates money and jobs." They also introduced the "creative industries" and the "creative economy" (not creator!) and tasked themselves with supporting them. Australia and the UK were early adopters.
Individual skill, innovation, and intellectual property fueled the creative economy. Its span covered design, writing, audio, video material, etc. The creative economy required IT-powered activity.
The new challenge was to introduce innovations to most economic segments and meet demand for digital products and services.
Despite what the title "creative economy" may imply, it was primarily oriented at meeting consumer needs. It didn't provide inventors any new options to become entrepreneurs. Instead of encouraging innovators to flourish on their own, the creative economy emphasized "employment-based creativity."
4. The creator economy
Next, huge IT platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and others competed with traditional mainstream media.
During the 2008 global financial crisis, these mediums surpassed traditional media. People relied on them for information, knowledge, and networking. That was a digital media revolution. The creator economy started there.
The new economic paradigm aimed to engage and convert clients. The creator economy allowed customers to engage, interact, and provide value, unlike the consumer economy. It gave them instruments to promote themselves as "products" and make money.
Writers, singers, painters, and other creators have a great way to reach fans. Instead of appeasing old-fashioned gatekeepers (producers, casting managers, publishers, etc.), they can use the platforms to express their talent and gain admirers. Barriers fell.
It's not only for pros. Everyone with a laptop and internet can now create.
2022 creator economy:
Since there is no academic description for the current creator economy, we can freestyle.
The current (or Web2) creator economy is fueled by interactive digital platforms, marketplaces, and tools that allow users to access, produce, and monetize content.
No entry hurdles or casting in the creative economy. Sign up and follow platforms' rules. Trick: A platform's algorithm aggregates your data and tracks you. This is the payment for participation.
The platforms offer content creation, design, and ad distribution options. This is platforms' main revenue source.
The creator economy opens many avenues for creators to monetize their work. Artists can now earn money through advertising, tipping, brand sponsorship, affiliate links, streaming, and other digital marketing activities.
Even if your content isn't digital, you can utilize platforms to promote it, interact and convert your audience, and more. No limits. However, some of your income always goes to a platform (well, a huge one).
The creator economy aims to empower online entrepreneurship by offering digital marketing tools and reducing impediments.
Barriers remain. They are just different. Next articles will examine these.
Why update the creator economy for Web3?
I could address this question by listing the present creator economy's difficulties that led us to contemplate a Web3 upgrade.
I don't think these difficulties are the main cause. The mentality shift made us see these challenges and understand there was a better reality without them.
Crypto drove this thinking shift. It promoted disintermediation, independence from third-party service providers, 100% data ownership, and self-sovereignty. Crypto has changed the way we view everyday things.
Crypto's disruptive mission has migrated to other economic segments. It's now called Web3. Web3's creator economy is unique.
Here's the essence of the Web3 economy:
Eliminating middlemen between creators and fans.
100% of creators' data, brand, and effort.
Business and money-making transparency.
Authentic originality above ad-driven content.
In the next several articles, I'll explain. We'll also discuss the creator economy and Web3's remedies.
The creator economy is the organic developmental stage we've reached after all these social and economic transformations.
The Web3 paradigm of the creator economy intends to allow creators to construct their own independent "open economy" and directly monetize it without a third party.
If this approach succeeds, we may enter a new era of wealth creation where producers aren't only the products. New economies will emerge.
This article is a summary. To read the full post, click here.
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10 months ago
Canonical URLs for Beginners
Canonicalization and canonical URLs are essential for SEO, and improper implementation can negatively impact your site's performance.
Canonical tags were introduced in 2009 to help webmasters with duplicate or similar content on multiple URLs.
To use canonical tags properly, you must understand their purpose, operation, and implementation.
Canonical URLs and Tags
Canonical tags tell search engines that a certain URL is a page's master copy. They specify a page's canonical URL. Webmasters can avoid duplicate content by linking to the "canonical" or "preferred" version of a page.
How are canonical tags and URLs different? Can these be specified differently?
Canonical tags are found in an HTML page's head></head> section.
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.website.com/page/" />
These can be self-referencing or reference another page's URL to consolidate signals.
Canonical tags and URLs are often used interchangeably, which is incorrect.
The rel="canonical" tag is the most common way to set canonical URLs, but it's not the only way.
What's a canonical link? Canonical link is the'master' URL for duplicate pages.
In Google's own words:
A canonical URL is the page Google thinks is most representative of duplicate pages on your site.
— Google Search Console Help
You can indicate your preferred canonical URL. For various reasons, Google may choose a different page than you.
When set correctly, the canonical URL is usually your specified URL.
Canonical URLs determine which page will be shown in search results (unless a duplicate is explicitly better for a user, like a mobile version).
Canonical URLs can be on different domains.
Other ways to specify canonical URLs
Canonical tags are the most common way to specify a canonical URL.
You can also set canonicals by:
Setting the HTTP header rel=canonical.
All pages listed in a sitemap are suggested as canonicals, but Google decides which pages are duplicates.
Google recommends these methods, but they aren't all appropriate for every situation, as we'll see below. Each has its own recommended uses.
Setting canonical URLs isn't required; if you don't, Google will use other signals to determine the best page version.
To control how your site appears in search engines and to avoid duplicate content issues, you should use canonicalization effectively.
Why Duplicate Content Exists
Before we discuss why you should use canonical URLs and how to specify them in popular CMSs, we must first explain why duplicate content exists. Nobody intentionally duplicates website content.
Content management systems create multiple URLs when you launch a page, have indexable versions of your site, or use dynamic URLs.
Assume the following URLs display the same content to a user:
A search engine sees eight duplicate pages, not one.
URLs #1 and #2: the CMS saves product URLs with and without the category name.
#3, #4, and #5 result from the site being accessible via HTTP, HTTPS, www, and non-www.
#6 is a subdomain mobile-friendly URL.
URL #7 lacks URL #2's trailing slash.
URL #8 uses a capital "A" instead of a lowercase one.
Duplicate content may also exist in URLs like:
Duplicate content is easy to create.
Canonical URLs help search engines identify different page variations as a single URL on many sites.
SEO Canonical URLs
Canonical URLs help you manage duplicate content that could affect site performance.
Canonical URLs are a technical SEO focus area for many reasons.
Specify URL for search results
When you set a canonical URL, you tell Google which page version to display.
Which would you click?
Canonicals tell search engines which URL to rank.
Consolidate link signals on similar pages
When you have duplicate or nearly identical pages on your site, the URLs may get external links.
Canonical URLs consolidate multiple pages' link signals into a single URL.
This helps your site rank because signals from multiple URLs are consolidated into one.
Content is often syndicated to reach new audiences.
Canonical URLs consolidate ranking signals to prevent duplicate pages from ranking and ensure the original content ranks.
Avoid Googlebot duplicate page crawling
Canonical URLs ensure that Googlebot crawls your new pages rather than duplicated versions of the same one across mobile and desktop versions, for example.
Crawl budgets aren't an issue for most sites unless they have 100,000+ pages.
How to Correctly Implement the rel=canonical Tag
Using the header tag rel="canonical" is the most common way to specify canonical URLs.
Adding tags and HTML code may seem daunting if you're not a developer, but most CMS platforms allow canonicals out-of-the-box.
These URLs each have one product.
How to Correctly Implement a rel="canonical" HTTP Header
A rel="canonical" HTTP header can replace canonical tags.
This is how to implement a canonical URL for PDFs or non-HTML documents.
You can specify a canonical URL in your site's.htaccess file using the code below.
<Files "file-to-canonicalize.pdf"> Header add Link "< http://www.website.com/canonical-page/>; rel=\"canonical\"" </Files>
301 redirects for canonical URLs
Google says 301 redirects can specify canonical URLs.
Only the canonical URL will exist if you use 301 redirects. This will redirect duplicates.
This is the best way to fix duplicate content across:
HTTPS and HTTP
Non-WWW and WWW
Trailing-Slash and Non-Trailing Slash URLs
On a single page, you should use canonical tags unless you can confidently delete and redirect the page.
Sitemaps' canonical URLs
Google assumes sitemap URLs are canonical, so don't include non-canonical URLs.
This does not guarantee canonical URLs, but is a best practice for sitemaps.
Best-practice Canonical Tag
Once you understand a few simple best practices for canonical tags, spotting and cleaning up duplicate content becomes much easier.
One canonical URL per page
If you specify multiple canonical URLs per page, they will likely be ignored.
Correct Domain Protocol
If your site uses HTTPS, use this as the canonical URL. It's easy to reference the wrong protocol, so check for it to catch it early.
Trailing slash or non-trailing slash URLs
Be sure to include trailing slashes in your canonical URL if your site uses them.
Specify URLs other than WWW
Search engines see non-WWW and WWW URLs as duplicate pages, so use the correct one.
To ensure proper interpretation, canonical tags should use absolute URLs.
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.website.com/page-a/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="/page-a/" />
If not canonicalizing, use self-referential canonical URLs.
When a page isn't canonicalizing to another URL, use self-referencing canonical URLs.
Canonical tags refer to themselves here.
Common Canonical Tags Mistakes
Here are some common canonical tag mistakes.
Set the canonical URL as the redirect target, not a redirected URL.
Incorrect Domain Canonicalization
If your site uses HTTPS, don't set canonical URLs to HTTP.
Canonicalize URLs to duplicate or near-identical content only.
SEOs sometimes try to pass link signals via canonical tags from unrelated content to increase rank. This isn't how canonicalization should be used and should be avoided.
Multiple Canonical URLs
Only use one canonical tag or URL per page; otherwise, they may all be ignored.
When overriding defaults in some CMSs, you may accidentally include two canonical tags in your page's <head>.
Pagination vs. Canonicalization
Incorrect pagination can cause duplicate content. Canonicalizing URLs to the first page isn't always the best solution.
Canonicalize to a 'view all' page.
How to Audit Canonical Tags (and Fix Issues)
Audit your site's canonical tags to find canonicalization issues.
SEMrush Site Audit can help. You'll find canonical tag checks in your website's site audit report.
Let's examine these issues and their solutions.
No Canonical Tag on AMP
Site Audit will flag AMP pages without canonical tags.
Canonicalization between AMP and non-AMP pages is important.
Add a rel="canonical" tag to each AMP page's head>.
No HTTPS redirect or canonical from HTTP homepage
Duplicate content issues will be flagged in the Site Audit if your site is accessible via HTTPS and HTTP.
You can fix this by 301 redirecting or adding a canonical tag to HTTP pages that references HTTPS.
Broken canonical links
Broken canonical links won't be considered canonical URLs.
This error could mean your canonical links point to non-existent pages, complicating crawling and indexing.
Update broken canonical links to the correct URLs.
Multiple canonical URLs
This error occurs when a page has multiple canonical URLs.
Remove duplicate tags and leave one.
Canonicalization is a key SEO concept, and using it incorrectly can hurt your site's performance.
Once you understand how it works, what it does, and how to find and fix issues, you can use it effectively to remove duplicate content from your site.
Canonicalization SEO Myths
10 months ago
5 Tips for Concise Writing
Here's how to be clear.
“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” — French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, and writer Blaise Pascal
People want this. We tend to repeat ourselves and use unnecessary words.
Being vague frustrates readers. It focuses their limited attention span on figuring out what you're saying rather than your message.
“Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose.” — American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher William Zinsser
How do you write succinctly?
Here are three ways to polish your writing.
Your readers will appreciate it if you delete unnecessary words. If a word or phrase is essential, keep it. Don't force it.
Many readers dislike bloated sentences. Ask yourself if cutting a word or phrase will change the meaning or dilute your message.
For example, you could say, “It’s absolutely essential that I attend this meeting today, so I know the final outcome.” It’s better to say, “It’s critical I attend the meeting today, so I know the results.”
Delete actually, completely, just, full, kind of, really, and totally. Keep the necessary words, cut the rest.
2. Just Do It
Don't tell readers your plans. Your readers don't need to know your plans. Who are you?
Don't say, "I want to highlight our marketing's problems." Our marketing issues are A, B, and C. This cuts 5–7 words per sentence.
Keep your reader's attention on the essentials, not the fluff. What are you doing? You won't lose readers because you get to the point quickly and don't build up.
Delete words that don't add to your message. Do something, don't tell readers you will.
3. Cut Overlap
You probably repeat yourself unintentionally. You may add redundant sentences when brainstorming. Read aloud to detect overlap.
Remove repetition from your writing. It's important to edit our writing and thinking to avoid repetition.
If you're repeating yourself, combine sentences to avoid overlap.
Write as you would to family or friends. Communicate clearly. Don't use jargon. These words confuse readers.
Readers want specifics, not jargon. Write simply. Done.
Most adults read at 8th-grade level. Jargon and buzzwords make speech fluffy. This confuses readers who want simple language.
Ensure all audiences can understand you. USA Today's 5th-grade reading level is intentional. They want everyone to understand.
5. Active voice
Subjects perform actions in active voice. When you write in passive voice, the subject receives the action.
For example, “the board of directors decided to vote on the topic” is an active voice, while “a decision to vote on the topic was made by the board of directors” is a passive voice.
Active voice clarifies sentences. Active voice is simple and concise.
Bringing It All Together
Five tips help you write clearly. Delete, just do it, cut overlap, use simple language, and write in an active voice.
Clear writing is effective. It's okay to occasionally use unnecessary words or phrases. Realizing it is key. Check your writing.
Adding words costs.
Write more concisely. People will appreciate it and read your future articles, emails, and messages. Spending extra time will increase trust and influence.
“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” — Naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau
Tech With Dom
6 months ago
6 Awesome Desk Accessories You Must Have!
I'm gadget-obsessed. So I shared my top 6 desk gadgets.
These gadgets improve my workflow and are handy for working from home.
Without further ado...
Computer light bar Xiaomi Mi
I've previously recommended the Xiaomi Mi Light Bar, and I still do. It's stylish and convenient.
The Mi bar is a monitor-mounted desk lamp. The lamp's hue and brightness can be changed with a stylish wireless remote.
Changeable hue and brightness make it ideal for late-night work.
Desk Mat 2.
I wasn't planning to include a desk surface in this article, but I find it improves computer use.
The mouse feels smoother and is a better palm rest than wood or glass.
I'm currently using the overkill Razer Goliathus Extended Chroma RGB Gaming Surface, but I like RGB.
Using a desk surface or mat makes computer use more comfortable, and it's not expensive.
Third, the Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse
The Logitech MX Master 3 or any from the MX Master series is my favorite mouse.
The side scroll wheel on these mice is a feature I've never seen on another mouse.
Side scroll wheels are great for spreadsheets and video editing. It would be hard for me to switch from my Logitech MX Master 3 to another mouse. Only gaming is off-limits.
Google Nest 4.
Without a smart assistant, my desk is useless. I'm currently using the second-generation Google Nest Hub, but I've also used the Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Spot, and Apple HomePod Mini.
As a Pixel 6 Pro user, the Nest Hub works best with my phone.
My Nest Hub plays news, music, and calendar events. It also lets me control lights and switches with my smartphone. It plays YouTube videos.
Google Pixel Stand, No. 5
A wireless charger on my desk is convenient for charging my phone and other devices while I work. My desk has two wireless chargers. I have a Satechi aluminum fast charger and a second-generation Google Pixel Stand.
If I need to charge my phone and earbuds simultaneously, I use two wireless chargers. Satechi chargers are well-made and fast. Micro-USB is my only complaint.
The Pixel Stand converts compatible devices into a smart display for adjusting charging speeds and controlling other smart devices. My Pixel 6 Pro charges quickly. Here's my video review.
6. Anker Power Bank
Anker's 65W charger is my final recommendation. This online find was a must-have. This can charge my laptop and several non-wireless devices, perfect for any techie!
The charger has two USB-A ports and two USB-C ports, one with 45W and the other with 20W, so it can charge my iPad Pro and Pixel 6 Pro simultaneously.
These are some of my favorite office gadgets. My kit page has an updated list.
Links to the products mentioned in this article are in the appropriate sections. These are affiliate links.
You're up! Share the one desk gadget you can't live without and why.